The last few weeks have really taught me a lot about myself and about Jacob. This entire swimming process has been so much different than I expected. It has actually been a super positive and nonstressful thing. Of course, the swim instructors and the safe facility had a lot to do with it, but I realized that I was really limiting Jacob before.
Because Jacob has limited functional speech and a hard time being attentive, I really waited a long time to even try swim lessons. Maybe it was my fear and anxiety or just my lack of belief, but I really waited too long to get him into swim lessons. Cret and I had taken him to the pool, but he acted wild with us and tried to dive right in like a crazy man and it was mostly just stressful. So instead of taking him to someone else, I think I just assumed it wasn't possible yet. Maybe a part of me was just stressed about the entire thing. This may sound terrible, but many little things are just so hard for him and for us. I don't mean to say that as a complaint, but I guess sometimes I use it as an excuse not to even try at times and it's such a stupid thing for me to do.
I didn't know how people would respond to him when he wasn't responding in the pool. I didn't know if he would ever understand how to hold his breath. I didn't know if the instructor would be able to catch Jacob if he took off sprinting to the other side of the pool and jumped in before fully learning to swim (true story and he did catch him mid-air). After all, we have worked on it for over a year and been unsuccessful with even small steps.
But what I realized is that Jacob didn't need to be verbal to learn. He just needed a teacher that was willing to try different teaching methods and break things down into smaller steps. He didn't need to have a long attention span, he just needed someone that was patient and willing to go slow. I realized that I should not try to limit him because of my preconceived notions and fear. He was not only capable of learning but has learned within weeks!
He still has some stuff to work on before he is a fully independent swimmer, but I am so thankful to God for his tremendous progress. This is an enormous burden lifted.
Yesterday I read the news of another boy with autism that wandered off and died in a nearby pond. I cannot imagine the suffering of this family and pray for peace for them. Please pray.
If you are an autism parent, don't let your child's differences or struggles stop you from trying. Be encouraged that swimming is a possibility. It may take a while, but it's worth a shot. Jacob is proving to me over and over that he is capable and that all he needs is for me to believe in him.